Chase Elliott close to wrapping up Nationwide Series title


The championship countdown is just about over for Chase Elliott.

With his fourth-place finish in Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, Elliott increased his lead atop the Nationwide Series standings to 48 points over Regan Smith.

That margin is Elliott’s largest lead in the NNS standings this season.

The 18-year-old Elliott, son of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee-elect Bill Elliott, could clinch the NNS championship next week at Phoenix, the second-to-last race of the season.

MORE: Kyle Busch wins NNS event at Texas, goes for only second 3-race weekend sweep in NASCAR history

But Elliott isn’t thinking about the championship just yet.

“We just want to keep digging and try to get better,” he told ESPN after Saturday’s race. “I’m really proud of everybody not for giving up. … I’m looking forward to going to Phoenix. We’d like to get another win.”

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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).